CMAQ Model Performance Enhanced When In-Cloud Secondary Organic Aerosol is Included: Comparisons of Organic Carbon Predictions with Measurements

Mounting evidence suggests that low-volatility (particle-phase) organic compounds form in the atmosphere through aqueous phase reactions in clouds and aerosols. Although some models have begun including secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation through cloud processing, validation studies that compare predictions and measurements are needed. In this work, agreement between modeled organic carbon (OC) and aircraft measurements of water soluble OC improved for all 5 of the compared ICARTT NOAA-P3 flights during August when an in-cloud SOA (SOA<sub>cld</sub>) formation mechanism was added to CMAQ (a regional-scale atmospheric model). The improvement was most dramatic for the August 14th flight, a flight designed specifically to investigate clouds. During this flight, the normalized mean bias for layer-averaged OC was reduced from −64 to −15% and correlation (<i>r</i>) improved from 0.5 to 0.6. Underpredictions of OC aloft by atmospheric models may be explained, in part, by this formation mechanism (SOA<sub>cld</sub>). OC formation aloft contributes to long-range pollution transport and has implications to radiative forcing, regional air quality and climate.